When Sally Burky was in the planning stages of her May 11 wedding, she knew that she wanted to incorporate something unique in the ceremony. So instead of having her bridesmaids hold flowers while they march down the aisle, she had them walk with adoptable shelter dogs to help them find their ‘furever’ homes!
As with most brides-to-be, Sally turned to Pinterest to look for wedding inspirations. True enough, the website didn’t disappoint. While scrolling through countless creative ideas on the page, there was one in particular that captured her attention: bridesmaids holding puppies instead of flowers.
The idea piqued her interest because it involved something very close to her heart – animals.
“I was searching different options other than bouquets and puppies popped up on Pinterest. I thought how neat it would be to not only have puppies, but adolescent, and senior dogs as well!” she told PEOPLE.
The concept was a perfect fit for her and her husband, Cary, who was also a big animal lover. In fact, it was that specific quality that made Sally realize that he was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for animals, but it was after I rescued a pit bull puppy, that we [Sally and her now-husband] started dating. He treated him so well, and that’s when I knew, he was the one,” she said.
This wedding twist was definitely cute, but it served a bigger purpose. Sally and Cary hope that by including shelter dogs in their wedding, they will have a greater chance of finding their ‘furever’ homes. It was also their way of raising awareness about the importance of adoption.
Sally contacted Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary in Washburn, Missouri, to check if they would allow some of their dogs to participate in the May 11 wedding ceremony. The director of the no-kill shelter, Sherah Farris, was more than happy to help the couple spotlight the dogs seeking families that would adopt them into their homes.
“We have about 110 dogs at any given time,” she said. “I waited until about seven days before (the wedding) and I picked dogs I knew could handle the stress of the new environment and can handle being around other dogs and strangers.”
Once the big day arrived, the dogs were driven to Republic, Missouri – which was a little more than an hour away from the shelter – to join Sally and Cary’s wedding party. The ceremony began and the music played, signalling the bridesmaids to link arms with their respective groomsmen and walk the aisle with an adorable dog on a leash alongside them.
Sally didn’t get the chance to see her guests’ initial reaction in person, but she said that after watching the video taken of the ceremony, she was glad to see that “everyone was smiling ear-to-ear!”
“The fact they were rescue dogs really hit a spot with people,” she said.
She also dedicated a part of her reception to the furry friends she invited to be part of her big day. The newlyweds used their dollar dance – a tradition where guests pay to dance with the bride or groom – to raise funds for Haven of the Ozarks and their mobile adoption events.
“Ever since we started dating, dogs, rescues, kittens is something he has always been a huge supporter of,” Sally shared.
At home, the couple have a pitbull mix, a German Shepherd, and a cat.
Sally’s plan worked after all. One week after the wedding, four out of the five dogs have found their ‘furever’ homes! A six-year-old terrier named Yazzy is still in search of a family who would adopt her.
This is the perfect wedding idea for couples who are animal lovers, and we’re so glad that Sally and Cary were able to make people realize the magic in adopting rescue pets.
To know more about how to donate to the shelter and adopt rescue animals, click HERE.